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Patients and Former Patients In The Classroom

As a psychiatric survivor one article of note caught my attention recently, Listening to patients transforms psychiatric care at GHSU.

Much as I’ve tried to open a dialogue and educate people in higher education about the mental health system unsuccessfully due to their prejudice against people with psychiatric histories, I’m amazed that some place is actually listening to people who have known life from the inside.

Psychiatric care and teaching at Georgia Health Sciences University has been transformed by listening to an unusual source: the patients and former patients.

This unusual source consists of the very people they should be serving when they graduate. Why, one has to wonder, are most schools unwilling to listen to this very source? In some if not most instances they continue NOT listening to this source after they’ve graduated.

The Department of Psy­chiatry and Health Behavior at GHSU will be honored today with the Award for Crea­tivity in Psychiatric Edu­cation at the American Col­lege of Psychiatrists’ annual meeting in Naples, Fla.

Assuming they are actually listening, and that they aren’t just pretending to listen, or listening to cherry picked patients and former patients, this should be an Award they richly deserve.

The department is being honored for its Georgia Re­cov­ery-based Educational Ap­proach to Treatment (GREAT) program, which emphasizes the recovery model of care.

Let me tell you, the recovery model of care is a great improvement over the non-recovery model of care. I just hope that someday the full and complete recovery model of care, with recovered as the actual end of treatment, will be on the agenda. I hate to keep hearing from mental health consumers who feel they are stuck in their recovery. There is, after all, a “wellness” on the other side of any “sickness”.

Hopefully other university and schools of higher education have their antennas up and operating, and they are saying, “Hey, GHSU is listening to its mental health service survivors and consumers; maybe we should start listening to our mental health service survivors and consumers, too.” I’d really like to see more of this kind of thing developing into something of a trend. If it were to do so, maybe it would eventually even seep down here to the university town where I happen to reside.

6 Responses

  1. Another terrible article. I don’t think real scientists would accept an award for creativity.

    • I’m looking for a way to get some kind of dialogue going in academia about pharmaceutical products and the rising mortality rate among people in mental health care. The way I see it, these students are dealing with a throw away population that nobody really cares about, not even mental health professionals. People should care about other people. If it took something like this classroom standup routine to bring this mortality rate and gap to the attention of people in higher education, however silly all told, then I’d use such an approach to do so. I think it shameful that people aren’t outraged and alarmed. I feel they certainly should be. There are other ways to treat people than to narcotically numb them into an early grave. I don’t think a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” approach to education is a good approach. They’re young, they’re students, they’re growing, they need to be exposed to views from all sides. They can take it.

      We’re dealing with a marginalized and disempowered population of people here. We need to deal as a community with these issues, and as an academic community, or they don’t get dealt with, and they get worse. Leaders in the peer movement have spoken about a need to Train The Trainers in the past, and this need certainly hasn’t lessened with time.

  2. The students could take it but their new teacher will drink the hemlock.

  3. I agree this should be encouraged, MFV. I find it rather galling that patients and former patients are considered “an unusual source”. Speaking with those who know what it is like to be on the receiving end of treatment should be a compulsory part of any degree in psychiatry or psychology.

    “Classroom stand-up routine”? Do you have one?

    • Exactly, most of these students are going to end up working with this “unusual source”. How “unusual” is that? Our history has been buried, too, but small wonder. I’m taking my cue from other abduction survivors when I say this. When your present is buried, maybe you need to do a little shouting–metaphorically speaking, of course.

      I’ve done the MHA World Mental Health Day kind of thing in the past, and it always struck me as a little like a stand up comedy routine. Users and survivors, one after the other, tell their stories, and either they’re talking to the completely ignorant, or they’re singing to the choir for the sake of a hand out, usually the latter. This involves having the intelligence to realise how silly the thing you’re taking part in actually is.

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